Again, we collect anecdotes as a challenge to measurement. There is no data series on numbers of businesses driven away by regulation. Yet.
This is a good anecdote, as it illustrates a too little reported underbelly of financial regulation.
Mr. Kahle saw how hard it was for the employees at his firm to obtain loans, and more broadly, how the existing financial system had helped contribute to the financial crisis. He thought he could do things differently, and he aimed to prove it when he began applying to open a credit union in early 2011.
Since then, the credit union has faced a barrage of regulatory audits and limitations on its operations, ...Now, Mr. Kahle is giving up on his dream of creating a new kind of bank, ...
...the troubles faced by his Internet Archive Federal Credit Union point to how difficult it can be to try out anything new in the heavily regulated industry.
After an 18-month application process, regulators let the Internet Archive Federal Credit Union open in 2012, but with restrictions that did not allow it to offer basic banking products, such as debit cards and online banking.
Mr. Modell said that during the 18-month application process, he and Mr. Kahle made 4,756 changes to their application and made it through only because of Mr. Kahle’s wealth. “I could afford to say yes at every turn — every time they made some weird demand,” Mr. Kahle said.
When they did get their charter from the N.C.U.A. in August 2012 — the first new credit union chartered that year — the Internet Archive Federal Credit Union was limited by the regulators to loans of $5,000 or less, and it could generally serve only people in a small area around New Brunswick, N.J., where the credit union was located.It's a wonder that the US is still only in the mid 40s on the world bank's list of how hard it is to start a new business. But just getting going, with restrictions that make profitability essentially impossible, is only the beginning.
it [the credit union] has faced a steady stream of official exams since: 11 in 14 months. In August, the credit union, by its own count, spent 187 hours dealing with regulators and only 61 hours dealing with customers.
The credit union’s other ideas for expansion were also shot down. In 2014, the Internet Archive Federal Credit Union tried to team up with an organization for migrant workers, the Farmworker Support Committee, to offer bank accounts and cheaper money transfers, but the idea was eventually rejected by an N.C.U.A. examiner.And when the regulators turn against you, they know how to turn the screws:
Mr. Modell and Mr. Kahle said the red flags raised by the N.C.U.A. examiners had been over small discrepancies and record-keeping issues — and often turned out to be factually wrong.
“None of the compliance issues listed in the report were correct,” the credit union wrote in an appeal sent to the N.C.U.A. in May, after the agency lowered the credit union’s regulatory rating.
The N.C.U.A. sent its examiners on an increasingly frequent basis and requested more and more monthly reports from Mr. Modell... By mid-2014, the credit union had made less than $50,000 in loans and Mr. Kahle suggested to Mr. Modell that it was time to give upAnd this business seems pretty much a poster child of benevolent capitalism:
“The original vision of this thing — of helping nonprofit workers, or helping the poor — they will not allow it,” Mr. Kahle said.Given the bad press payday lenders get, this is doubly sad. The quantifiable result:
the number of credit unions in the United States has been shrinking each year since the crisis. There are around 6,300 credit unions, down from 7,000 in 2012 and 8,400 in 2007.The larger backdrop would be amusing if it were not tragic. While the monetary policy part of the Fed has wanted stimulus and more lending, the regulatory apparatus has apparently been busy making sure banks don't lend, at least to anyone who needs the money, new banks don't start, and financial innovations don't emerge.
Update: LabMD CEO Michael J. Dougherty has a blog and a book.